Pennsylvania Wing
Main Content

Emergency Services

Emergency Services Education ProgramCivil Air Patrol provides an array of emergency services, which fall into three primary categories: search and rescue, disaster relief, and humanitarian and community support. To conduct these missions, there are numerous programs and many specially trained personnel who are part of aircrews, ground crews, and incident management teams that provide operational support. 

Search and Rescue

In search scenarios, time is of the essence. Reducing the “time to find” increases the likelihood of survival. Since Civil Air Patrol’s formation in 1941, technology has advanced search methodology from the equivalent of looking for a needle in a haystack to near-pinpoint accuracy. Thousands of Americans are alive today because of CAP’s ability to develop, adapt, and integrate innovative technology like cellphone forensics and radar analysis that dramatically improve search effectiveness.

Civil Air Patrol conducts about 90% of all inland search and rescue missions as directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Outside the contiguous states, CAP directly supports the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Civil Air Patrol is credited by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center with saving an average of more than 100 lives each year. 

Advanced Aerial Imaging Capabilities

Recent technological advances and special equipment mounted on CAP aircraft allow aircrews to provide an array of leading-edge imagery to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state emergency management officials. Specialists can then review this imagery to quickly assess damage and more accurately facilitate and coordinate recovery efforts.

Forward looking infrared (FLIR) technology can be used to detect heat signatures at night when visual contact may not be possible or to see through conditions that obscure vision. Using this innovative technology, CAP can continue to search for missing individuals at night or see how wildfires are moving even when sight is obscured by smoke.

Multispectral imaging is used to create 3D imagery of structures to help agencies determine the extent of damage, resources required, and more. This helps facilitate disaster response by other agencies.

Disaster Response

Civil Air Patrol emergency services teams support a wide range of disaster response missions by providing imagery of wildfire, flood, tornado, earthquake, mudslide, hurricane, and other damage. Volunteers also respond following natural disasters as organized local support to distribute necessities, manage traffic, clear debris, help displaced families, and perform other duties and collaborate with other agencies as needed.


Humanitarian and Community Service

Civil Air Patrol members are ready to serve their communities, especially in the wake of natural disasters. Here are some examples of Civil Air Patrol humanitarian assistance and crisis response:

  • Civil Air Patrol aircrews transport time-sensitive medical materials, such as blood and human tissue, medical supplies, and more when other means of transportation (such as ambulances) are not practical or possible.

  • Distribute water, meals, and supplies.

  • Transport personnel and equipment.

  • Fill and position sandbags to combat flooding.




Click the links to the left for more information.





Volunteers Serving America’s Communities, Saving Lives, and Shaping Futures.




© 2024 Civil Air Patrol. All rights reserved.